Disability, My Life

Birmingham PHAB Camps – A Honourable Charity

Birmingham PHAB Camps is a true honourable charity that needs your help!

Now at the end of my second year at De Montfort University, I was going through some recordings on my phone and I found an interview that I did on behalf of Demon FM, Afternoon Show with Maxine Ross-Wallis – the chairperson of Birmingham PHAB Camps.

At the time of the interview, I was planning to do a segment of our show, ‘Dry January.’

I wanted to highlight the fact that though we have to tighten our purse strings, charities, in particular the ones who rely on donations, sponsorships and fundraising events, struggle to start the year properly as they haven’t got enough funds.

I thought long and hard about it and what I could do to help. I wanted to get an interview with a committee member or someone who represents a charity, that I know has struggled due to this and that’s when the idea struck me. I decided to interview Maxine Ross-Wallis, the chairperson of Birmingham PHAB Camps.

I appreciate that some people may think I’m biased and maybe I am. I know that I have spoken about them in a number of previous blog posts, but I cannot stop highlighting the tremendous and incredible work they do with disabled children and young adults.

Then too organise a residential holiday which includes participating in a variety of activities, Adapting those activities to suit all of the disabilities of the participants who take part in the holidays is truly fantastic.

I think it’s also important to highlight that many of the participants for any reason, may not have had the opportunity to go on a holiday or break, so to have this chance is truly incredible.

There are a range of camps, for disabled and non – disabled children and young adults, tailored to their age and disabilities and their abilities.

The participants ages range between 8-25 years old. The activities on the camps for the younger ages consist of day trips to farms and the seaside, other activities were based at the residential centers in which the participants stay at, these included water fights or arts and crafts.

The disabled and non-disabled participants who are a part of the older camps take part in activities such as horse riding, abseiling, rock climbing. and zip wiring and other activities.

The charity thrive on the fact that any person, living in Birmingham can join on these holidays regardless of their ability.

They don’t turn any child or young person away just because of their disability. It enables the participants to experience different activities, socialise and have a holiday of a lifetime.

To enhance the holidays even further they encourage those who are not disabled to come on these holidays and join in.

This encourages everyone to socialise and become ‘one’ as they take part in the same activities and a mutual environment.

Members of the camps can feel at ease during the holidays as they are amongst people that own age, some of whom have similar all the same disabilities to them.

This can allow them to feel less isolated and can have more fun and be themselves, not hiding behind their disability or difficulty that they face in daily living.

Disabled children and young adults are often the victims of stereotyping. Those who are not around the disabled communities can and often do misinterpret the different disabilities that exist in society.

Therefore misunderstandings occur around these disabilities and how each can affect everyone differently.

Every disability is different and every person with that disability is unique. However some people view those with disabilities as people who are completely dependent on their families and loved ones and they are incapable of doing anything for themselves and unable to achieve the same goals as other people would.

An aspect that Birmingham PHAB Camps do exceptionally well is to engage those who are disabled to participate in the activities at any level they can.

It also shows them to be active and to get involved and be with those who are not disabled.

On the flip side, it also enables those who are not disabled to interact with those with disabilities, allowing them to get a better knowledge and understanding of the lives of a disabled person and the challenges they face.

As well as the camps being beneficial to all participants, who may not have otherwise got holidays, it also gives the parents and guardians of these participants a much needed break.

It allows the parents and guardians to get a week’s rest bite, while having the reassurance that their loved ones are having fun and are well cared for by people that want the campers to have a great time but also who have been previously trained on the different needs of all participants on the camps and how these needs affect these individuals.

Birmingham PHAB Camps take between 100 – 120 children and young adults on the camps every year and it costs them roughly £100,000 each time.

This is due to all the participants involved needing a high level of care, for whatever reason and to enable them to get the most out of these residential holidays, they to need to be able to cater for these different needs.

As well as catering to each participant’s needs, they also have to locate the residential centres in which the participants and volunteers stay out during these holidays.

These centres must be adapted to the difficulties that these participants have and the centres are also adapted so many of the on-sight activities are those which the disabled and non-disabled participants can join in with while on the camp holidays. The centres themselves, due to those adaptations are very costly in itself.

Birmingham PHAB Camps is not government funded, so all money raised, the charity raises themselves or receives.

The charity never gives up and raises the funds. This is through sponsored events and activities. They charity also require donations and sponsorships from generous people and companies.

Birmingham PHAB Camps uphold the same fundraising activities the do every year and ask the same people and companies for donations and sponsorship but they constantly reach out to new people, companies, organisations for donations and sponsorship to contribute towards the charity funds.

Each and every penny raised contributes towards the camps in some form, all people who run the camps and all the people who take care of the participants are volunteers.

No one receives any income whatsoever.

This, in my opinion is unbelievable. I cannot even describe how much this means to someone like me.

Everyone contributes the free time, passion and all their energy into making the camps the best they can be, ones to remember for all participants and volunteers.

One of the many problems that the charity faces as a result of not being government funded and relying heavily on the income off fundraising events, donations and sponsorships, is that if they cannot raise the amount needed every year, then they will be unable to cater for a participant’s needs and cannot afford to take them on a camp, which would deny them this unique experience, showing them that anything is possible, despite their disability.

Birmingham PHAB Camps gives all the participants life changing experience and they can learn to grow in confidence and independence as they learn to trust each other and mix with other participants who have the same or similar needs to them.

The actions of the charity enables all participants to take part in activities that they never thought they could due to their disabilities.

Referring back to the fact this was an interview between myself and the chairperson of Birmingham PHAB Camp Maxine Ross-Wallis, a few points and memories of her time with the charity can not be measured, nor can fully describe the pride she feels.

Maxine told me that when she sees the participants’ faces after the week-long camps, their faces are all indescribable.

Every participant, whether disabled or non – disabled are all so happy and so proud, following all of the activities they took a part in during these camps and have done activities which they never thought they would do or could do as barriers due to their disabilities and prevent this.

Then to be able to tell or show their parents and guardians photographs or show them diary entries of the memories created on these camps is even better.

At the end of the interview, Maxine expressed the desperate need for volunteers and is reaching out to anyone to come on these holidays and apply.

As well as helping to change disabled and non-disabled participants lives and to bring that smile of joy to their faces, Maxine reassures potential volunteers that they, themselves will build life-time memories as well as help the disabled and non-disabled participants build life-time memories.

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